"The freedom of media and the risks for journalism in Spain"

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“The freedom of media and the risks for journalism in Spain”

Brussels, 25th June 2013

In Spain being a journalist does not imply facing any special risks, particularly since ETA announced its ceasefire. Media and journalists in the Basque Country can now express themselves without threat. We must remember several journalists were victims of ETA attacks.

There are conflicts, in which journalists cover demonstrations and other events, where situations of violence take place. In some cases, journalists have been beaten by the police and some confusing detentions have happened.

Also, journalists working on investigations are sometimes threatened or even some of them have been reported to the police, accused or punished with fines.

But in general, under my point of view, the two big problems of the sector are:

a)    The setback that pluralism in the public RTVE has suffered, specially since the current Spanish government has taken the competence to nominate its General Director from the Spanish Parliament to make it an exclusive governmental attribution

b)   The increased control of the media by powerful financial sectors.

The Spanish media have become more and more dependent of shareholders (usually financial entities or investment funds) which control them, and these entities have no special interest to give voice to progressive media, which is critical of the system.

Some media have given up their function of power scrutiny to become the power loyal servants. As a consequence, the sectors most judgemental with the authority look into the social networks for the information they cannot find in the traditional media.

Finally there is the regression of the sector, the loss of thousands of jobs and salary restrictions that affect the journalists’ work and push them to move to conflict zones. Many journalists -specially the young ones- go to the war zones (Syria p.e.) and they work in very unsafe and unprotected conditions. They work as freelancers, risking their lives without any protection from the media company to which they sell the information.

Those are problems that are probably shared by many European countries.

In any case, the freedom of the media is going through difficult times and as a consequence our democracies are weakening.

This is, in short, my view of the media in Spain.

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